Let's All Stop Eating: Chicken Nuggets

When I was younger, eating at McDonald’s was the height of coolness and deliciousness. My parents grew up outside of the US, and we mostly ate a traditional Mediterranean diet: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of olive oil, and fish. This will supposedly increase my life expectancy, but as a ten year-old, I only wanted one thing: chicken nuggets.

My parents indulged this a few times a year, mostly before leaving the country to visit family who lived in places woefully under-equipped with “real food.” So to McDonald’s we would go, where five pieces of chicken nuggets, half of them shaped like a Christmas stocking, would get drowned in barbecue sauce before being popped into my mouth.

Good to know I probably wasn’t eating chicken. In a recent piece by Reuters, we learn that chicken nuggets found in fast food restaurants around the country are only 50% chicken muscle tissue- meaning the breast or thigh most of us think of when we think nuggets. The rest of your nug could include fat, cartilage, blood vessels, pieces of bone and nerves.  

“Chicken” nuggets being deep fried

Researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center inspected two chicken nuggets from two separate fast food restaurants (they chose not to disclose which restaurants). Certainly this is a small sample size, and the researchers stress that this project is meant to serve as a reminder to consumers that  "not everything that tastes good is good for you.“

Perhaps more troubling is that restaurants are not required to specify all the ingredients that go into a food product- after all, chicken bones and nerves technically are chicken. So next time you’re hungry for some fried chicken, remember that if you want 100% meat, you might be better off making it at home.

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